It's Just Parchment, Get Over It

David Michael Green

Last week America engaged in one of its perennial paroxysms of constitutional cogitation – this time over the Obama health care bill – with (mostly) predictable results.

Four of the great legal priests on our High Temple’s Council of Scriptural Interpretation said that, yes, the Affordable Care Act was within the boundaries of what a small collection of men riding horseback to a meeting in Philadelphia one summer two-and-a-quarter centuries ago allow us to do today as a continent-wide superpower society of 300 million people in the age of atom bombs, space travel, heart transplants and genetic engineering. George and John and Thomas say it’s okay, we can have health care. Whew. That’s a relief.

But then four other priests insisted, “Oh, no, this is fundamentally not allowed. Not at all.”

And one apparently went both ways, voting against it before he was for it.

Such, in “the greatest country in the world” – as regressives, doing their national equivalent of Allahu Akbar, seek to assuage their insecurities and reassure themselves by constantly shouting at the rest of us – is the way we determine whether tens of millions of children will or will not receive pediatric care. This – by pondering what would John Hancock do? – is how we figure out whether one-sixth of our population deserves to have their lives lengthened by early cancer detection and intervention, or must instead resort to ‘treatment’ of their already metastasized masses in hospital emergency rooms.

The very fact of this debate and the questions on which it turns tells you far more than you’d care to know about just how great your greatest country is, the one which spends vastly more on health care than any other, but delivers the least to its citizens. But that is the subject of an essay (or six) for another day.

Broken Shards Of The Heart

David Michael Green

People waiting in line for voting to open in Milwaukee. Wis-
consin Republican Gov. Scott Walker took on Democratic
challenger Tom Barrett in a recall election.

I could tell you that my heart was broken by what happened in Wisconsin this week, but in truth that’s not quite accurate.

I grew into political awareness and maturity in the middle of the 1970s. For people my age, then, our entire adult lives have been one long witness to the dismantling of that which we grew up taking for granted as a foundation for any further progress that might come. We lived in the relatively egalitarian country of the New Deal and the Great Society, with its robust middle class and a measure of earnest compassion for the poor. Today, that seems like a foreign country, if not a remote planet.

Over the course of our adult lives:

We watched in shock and horror as the country turned to a Hollywood washout, who was literally a national joke candidate five years earlier, and made him president, following him down every path of joyful self-destruction and absurd deceit.

A Very Sick Country

David Michael Green


It looks now like the regressive majority on the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, his health care bill.

That is so fitting.

More than that, it is also a reminder of just how sick this country truly is. Imagine that the lab returned the results from your battery of blood work tests, and all the indicators were screaming out “Danger!” and “Broken!”. That’s us, baby. Get this patient to the ER!

What a total disaster.

The first indicator of how unhealthy we are as a country – literally and figuratively – is the fact that we still don’t have universal health care here in the wealthiest place on Earth. It’s been more than century since the welfare state – a system in which the national government assumes responsibility, as an agent of the national will, for guaranteeing certain benefits and protections to its citizenry – was invented, and, unlike every other developed country in the world, the richest one still doesn’t come close to having universal care for our public, including millions of children. It’s a crime – there’s no other word for it – of astonishing proportions . But it gets worse. We pay more than half-again per capita above the cost of the next most expensive system in the world, and still one-sixth of our population remains completely uninsured, with many more poorly insured. Nice.

By the way, it’s worth noting that the guy who originally launched the welfare state was none other than the regressive and aggressive old Prussian chancellor himself, Otto von Bismarck. Golly, I don’t mean to be critical or anything, but you know you’re hurting when your country’s politics are to the right of the “blood and iron” father of the German Empire. Just saying...

Jesus Christ, America: Get Control of Your Womenfolk Already, Would Ya?

David Michael Green

Regular readers of this column know how much I despise conservatives. But they may not know why.

It’s because they’re such pussies.

Stupid conservatives applauded when that pansy Bush merely invaded Iraq. I say we should’ve instead just gone ahead and incinerated all one billion Muslims on the planet (and then grabbed our oil from underneath their ashes, while we’re there). Why weenie-out and just wreck a single country when you can clobber them all? What’s the point of sitting on five or six thousand nukes if you’re never gonna use them? They’re all terrorists, anyhow.

Likewise, I’m sickened by the whole approach of so-called conservatives to economic issues in this country. Working class people in America make way too much money, and the rich aren’t nearly rich enough. Sure, conservatives have done some good work on this front, such as transferring taxes onto the poor, exporting jobs and crushing unions, but it’s not enough! And I’m sick of everyone talking about slavery like it was such a bad thing. I say let’s have the ninety-nine percent start earning their keep around here. From now on they should have to spend at least one weekend per month ‘volunteering’ on wealthy people’s estates and plantations.

And how about that whole women’s rights thing, eh? I’ll tell you what, for nearly a century now, this country has been drowning under the weight of obscenities like autonomy, equality and freedom for women. Have we absolutely lost our minds?!?! This is completely out of hand.

These women – these people with their va... va... vaginas – they’ve taken over our jobs, and now they want more! Nowadays women can work as much as they want to. Instead of being at home, where we can control them, we’ve let them invade the workplace and do anything they want. Now they’re all over the Supreme Court, the State Department, and a couple of years ago we almost sent one to the White House. She wasn’t even an idiot-babe like Sarah, either.

It’s gettin’ worse too. Far more college students are girls these days than men. In grandpa’s day, there was no reason for the little ladies to have a higher education. You don’t need to study macro economics to figure out home economics, my friend. You don’t need a masters degree in psychology to keep ten or twelve kids properly fed and disciplined. What kind of future are we creating for ourselves arming all these women with ideas, facts and theories? You know they’re only gonna use that knowledge to give us grief.

The Grubby Species

David Michael Green

What is most disheartening is that Americans don’t even understand the experiment they’ve been subjected to these last thirty years. They seem to get the fact that it has failed, but they don’t know what “it” is.

Nobility is a bitch, and a real seductive one at that.

I’m capable of some serious cynicism, but these days I kinda wish I had a lot more of it. I kinda wish I had born and raised in a more cynical time. Then maybe I wouldn’t get my heart broken so often.

That’s a funny thing to say about the time I grew up in, in a way. It was the era of Vietnam and Watergate, the era of police attack dogs and burning cities. My Lai, Kent State, Nixon, Watts. What’s uglier than that? And can’t one make a very compelling case that these are significantly better times today? I mean, after all, the government isn’t beating and murdering our kids on America’s streets. And while we’re still fighting wars (of course), there are a lot less casualties on either side these days. Aren’t things better?

No. They’re worse. What’s absent today from the America of my younger days is hope and understanding. Back then, everyone understood there was a struggle going on, and lots of people did just that. And they generated enormous successes, ranging from changing both racial civil rights laws and norms, to doing the same for gender equality, to demanding cleaner government, to improving the New Deal social safety net, to ending the Vietnam war, to distributing the national wealth more fairly, to changing environmental consciousness and law, and more.

It was a painful process, but one that came with an outstanding record of achievement, a record which therefore justified the sense of hope. There was solid and robust empirical evidence to prove that having high expectations for the country was not some pollyannaish exercise in naïveté.

That’s all gone. It’s been replaced by something far worse than a tired stasis. And, really, when you consider the present picture in its full glory, you’re left with something beyond despair. For this is not only a story of deceit and hypocrisy, of rampant greed, of sociopathic disdain for the lives of others, but, finally, also a story of complete betrayal and the predatory exploitation of innocent people.

Stupid democrats, stupid republicans

David Michael Green

There are precious few things that Republicans and Democrats can agree on, but one of them is that Barack Obama is a liberal.

That rare manifestation of consensus might ordinarily be occasion for celebration (according to conventional wisdom, at least – though certainly not mine – which celebrates consensus), except for one pesky problematic detail: the notion is utterly ludicrous.

Consider a batch of recent headlines as merely the most proximate examples of a phenomenon that’s been on display since before the president was inaugurated.

Last week, the New York Times ran a front page piece, entitled “U.S. Pressing Its Crackdown Against Leaks”, in which it was noted that, “The Justice Department shows no sign of rethinking its campaign to punish unauthorized disclosures to the news media, with five criminal cases so far under President Obama, compared with three under all previous presidents combined. This week, a grand jury in Virginia heard testimony in a continuing investigation of WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy group, a rare effort to prosecute those who publish secrets, rather than those who leak them.” Though the article doesn’t mention it, we should also note here that the Obama administration is also all but Gitmo-style torturing Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing documents to Wikileaks.

The article does allude, however, to the gross inappropriateness of the charges in many of these cases, a sentiment that is even joined by several conservative commentators and national security experts. In particular, the White House is bringing down the hammer on individuals who appear to be fully patriotic public servants, who acted as whistle-blowers in order to live up to their own patriotic standards. In other words, the secrets they were publicizing had no effect in terms of jeopardizing national security, unless one defines protecting the nation as covering up malfeasance, corruption or waste in government. No doubt some people do define it as exactly that, since, by some purely random coincidence, doing so happens to serve very well their own interests. Evidently the big liberal now in the Oval Office concurs.

I Regret To Inform You That Your Country Is Suffering From A Severe Case Of Palinosis

David Michael Green
The Regressive Antidote

I hope I never write another piece on Sarah Palin again.

The woman is a disease, and I choose my words carefully there. She is everything that is wrong with America, and indeed, that is the only reason I’m writing this at all. This essay is altogether far more a commentary on Governor Quit’s America than it is on the woman herself. Our national problem is Palinosis far more than it is Palin.

There have always been people like Sarah Palin, and presumably there always will be. The two real questions are why anyone cares about them and, most astonishingly, why anyone would seriously contemplate putting them in charge of a country of 300 million people.

Palin the person is back in the news again right now (and notice that she makes sure never to really be absent) for two reasons. First, because she’s launched this wild bus tour which reminds one of those nested Russian dolls where you open each one up and there’s another inside. This tour is a ‘family vacation’, inside of which is Palin’s public service mission of educating the rest of us about American history, inside of which is a faux flirtation with presidential politics, inside of which is a relentless, endless series of publicity stunts masquerading as a human being, inside of which is an utterly shameless money-grubbing cash cow, inside of which is a frightened little girl whose insecurities could make George W. Bush look like a paragon of self-confidence in comparison. At the end of the day, she has become essentially the Paris Hilton of politics. She is famous for being famous, and she’s masterful at that one thing and that one thing only.

Dispatches From The End Of Empire

David Michael Green
The Regressive Antidote

Well folks, there’s good news, and there’s bad news in America today.

The good news is that people seem to be waking up just a bit to what’s being done to them.

The bad news is that it really is just a bit that they’re waking up.

The good news is that the Republican Party is showing some serious signs of preparing for self-immolation.

The bad news is that that leaves us with Barack Obama and the other Republican Party as an ‘alternative’.

Such is the state of America at the end of empire.

This week, one of the reddest districts in the country voted to send a Democrat to Congress. There was a special election to fill the seat, after the highly moralistic married Republican who had been holding it previously got busted sending out hunky topless pictures of himself as he trolled for a little babe action on Craigslist. What a shock to find that those who lecture us incessantly about our sexual morality turn out to be, er, somewhat hypocritical about it all, eh? If you ask me, it’s one of the few iron laws of political science. You can bet the house that any politician who makes it his or her business to speak and legislate on your sexuality is, in fact, secretly one of the most twisted vines in the jungle. Count on it. But back to our story.

When Pigs Rule

David Michael Green
The Regressive Antidote

Imagine you were a pig.

As a pig, you would care about nothing besides getting fat.

If you could get fat by eating the food shares of other animals, you would readily do so.

If you could get fat by eating up your own little piglet children’s future, you would do so.

If you could get fat by eating your whole farm into ruin, you’d munch right through it without another thought.

Indeed, if you could get fat by scarfing up so much food that you literally imperiled the entire planet, you would not only do so, but you would criticize and mock those who had the temerity merely to point out the consequences of your actions and thereby interfere with the conquering of your global comestible empire.

For those of you, like me, who too often find themselves aghast at the state of our nation, jaws dropped to the floor in wonder at the astonishing capacity for American self-destruction, befuddled by the acquiescence of the victims of this pillaging, there’s your answer: If you can imagine what it would be like to be an amoral, sociopathic, singularly focused, devoted consumption machine – that is, to be a pig – then you get it. And then you get our America, too.

Trading Places: A Tale of Two Countries

David Michael Green
The Regressive Antidote

Regressives love markets as a tool for organizing our social sphere. Love ‘em!

That’s fine, up to a point. Marketplace of ideas? Great notion. Political choice? Could we have a lot more, please? Competition in commercial relations? I wish the folks on the right were one-tenth as serious about that as is their rhetoric.

In other respects, however, the market is not the way to go. Letting the market take care of my health security (have we already forgotten that “managed care” was originally sold to us on the basis of bringing the wonders of the business model to medicine?) hasn’t worked out so very well. And, as we’re going to realize acutely in the coming decades, turning over environmental stewardship to the magic of the marketplace has been about as brilliant an idea as would be giving nuclear warheads to angry meth-torqued teenagers or religious lunatics sporting apocalyptic visions of the paradise that will follow global annihilation.

But, I’ve got an idea. And perhaps my (mostly imaginary) friends on the right will indulge me and play along. Let’s call it the Marketplace of Countries, shall we? Let’s take two (for the sake of simplicity) countries and compare them to each other. Then we can use the magical market modality to determine our respective assessments of them. If it turns out that one country looks a lot more attractive than the other, surely we’ll want to exercise that much vaunted power of marketplace choice, and validate that one as the superior place to live, right?

Fair enough?

An additional beauty of this test is that while the right and what little that goes for a left in America today can hardly ever agree on any solutions to problems, I think we can mostly agree on what constitutes the problems, right? Not always, but mostly. For example, a richer country is better than a poorer one, isn’t it? No debate on that. A more educated society beats an ignorant one, no? And wouldn’t we all like to feel safe from crime?

Okay, then! Let’s compare Country A and Country B on a variety of measures, and see what we come up with, shall we?

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